How do you prepare your workforce for the next five years?
Tradition — the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another. Classroom training may be the traditional approach, and it may have been effective for quite some time, but as we see, things are changing and they are changing at an extremely fast pace!
Today, development shouldn’t be restricted to formal instruction and classroom delivery. It should be ingrained into employees’ workflows, presenting opportunities to learn and grow across a number of touch points and mediums.
One of the most effective ways to make development a part of every employee’s “everyday” is through online and digital platforms. Using online management systems allows your work environment to provide employees with the opportunity to learn on the job, at their convenience, and with little to no obstacles. Time is a depleted resource and therefore flexibility and finding outlets that allow employees to pause and focus are integral.
Discussion forums, self-paced eLearning courses, resource banks, videos and webinars are just a few of the engaging learning components that can help develop employees continuously, and on the fly.
Now, while you might be fully onboard with more modern vehicles for training and development, employees might still be stuck in the gluey terminology of training, training providers, and instructors. This means that opportunities for on the job learning, self-directed learning, and peer learning, might be passed up. This is because the “training label” prevents employees from recognizing these opportunities unless they’re formal, in a classroom, and led by an instructor.
In order to change this mindset, we have to start with leadership. Your leadership system will need to set the culture and understand that development relies on learning, not just training. And that this learning can present itself in many different shapes and sizes.
Like learning from a mentor, completing an online training program, brainstorming with colleagues, or simply trying out something new and learning from mistakes will provide development and growth.
Developing your workforce can take time, energy, and financial investment. So while there will be benefits for employees, it’s also important to focus on developing those skills, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors that will impact business outcomes.
Frequent and open communication with employees will reveal those personal and career development goals that align with the business’ strategic goals. Finding the commonalities means finding a mutual goal, and a supportive relationship between employer and employee for achieving it.
Feedback is only as good as its relevance. It needs to be real-time. There’s no one better to tell you if your development strategy is working, and how you could improve it.
The final, and arguably most important workforce development strategy is to put the learner at the center of development. They need to do the driving. Let them choose what to learn, where to learn, and how to learn it.
By incorporating eLearning tools, informal learning approaches, and micro-learning, employees should be able to drive their own learning in a way that’s tailored to their development needs and goals. This way, employees spend time only on those development areas that are most relevant to their roles, and that they haven’t yet nailed.
This, of course, is an undeniably better approach than a mandatory, mass application training workshop that forces employees to waste time learning a skill that they already have, or don’t need.
To encourage employees to drive their own development, make sure to incorporate bite-sized chunks of learning, and that are easily accessible, into their daily work. This way, you’re giving them all the resources they’ll need to engage in development activities, at a pace that suits them.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards”.
Keep your business and employees moving forward with a successful workforce development strategy. Change is the only constant, so change we must.